The purpose of this paper is to define the sustainable university in Turkey, by considering perspectives of various stakeholders such as experts, intellectual, public, political parties and media using public opinion formation analysis. The paper aims to re-define the “sustainable university” with all dimensions including environmental, economic and social factors in Turkey.
In this study, the model of shaping the policy agenda and public opinion formation by certain groups, presented by Papadakis (1996), was used to determine the main characteristics of a sustainable university. Based on this model, the researchers collected data from intellectuals, experts, political parties, media and public simultaneously. Focus groups and archival search were used.
The results of the public opinion formation process presented that the definition of sustainable universities in Turkey includes the economic, ecological and social aspects and a holistic view of different groups. The findings of the study presented that the definition of sustainable universities in Turkey has many facets. Different groups in the public opinion formation process share almost similar views, though these points are usually mentioned under different headings. Thus, nearly each respondent in the public opinion formation process discusses the concept of being a “trade mark” as a university.
The research may lack generalizability, as it takes place in Turkey, which is a non-Western country.
The research sheds a light for universities, which are the major cornerstones of higher education, especially in the area of sustainability and sustainable development. Also, universities have a great impact in regional development, which stresses once again the importance of sustainability in higher education. They should modify their education programs and curricula in accordance with sustainability. University–industry cooperation should be provided. They should manage to become a trademark.
Universities being the major cornerstones of higher education play a vital role in regional development of countries; therefore, their sustainable development should be well handled to enable regional development.
The universities are the major actors which should pursue sustainability, as they affect society. The studies on sustainability and universities have been generally grouped under two main subjects in the literature. First group of studies highlights the support of universities for sustainability of corporations, whereas other studies stress the importance of becoming a sustainable university. There are not many studies on this subject which considers the public opinion formation process throughout the literature; therefore, this study contributes to the literature with this aspect. The study takes place in Izmir, Turkey, which is a non-Western country. Most of the studies on this subject take place in Western countries, so as the study is deployed in a non-Western country, it reflects a different point of view.
Zaptcioglu Celikdemir, D., Gunay, G., Katrinli, A. and Penbek Alpbaz, S. (2017), "Defining sustainable universities following public opinion formation process", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 294-306. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2015-0105
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